Titan
A Raining Sun of Light and Love, For You and You and You
2007
B



titan's brand of psychedelic rock is so anachronistic, it's almost daring. Bands like the Mars Volta and Opeth have referenced the sound, though to them it's a means, not an end. Titan, on the other hand, never made it past vinyl. Its debut full-length is really a gatefold LP disguised as a CD digipak. The inside artwork features eye-popping electric pastels in the shape of (what else?) a mushroom. With four tracks, each around ten minutes long, the package practically screams "Live at the Fillmore 1969."

The cover sticker mentions Ash Ra Tempel, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Hawkwind, and Zombi. These influences are more spiritual than methodological. Ash Ra Tempel was more "far out" than Titan, Mahavishnu more tonally adventurous, and Hawkwind more poppy. Titan is more like Zombi, in that it is simply bringing older sounds into the present. The last track here is even Zombi-like, an arpeggiated analog synth workout over a motorik bass line.

This album's only fault is that it doesn't really take off. The promise of psychedelic rock was that it could take listeners to a higher place. Here, however, the trip is back in time, rather than in one's mind. The first track is as close as the band gets to transcendence. After a brief acoustic intro, it drops into a trudging groove, building steam before charging into a raveup straight out of Easy Rider. Chugging Steppenwolf riffs then lead to a soaring three-note refrain. Instead of taking it higher, though, the band plays theme and variation with it. A solo does appear near the end. However, it's wandering and merely textural. These tracks could have been shorter, proper songs or longer, rapturous jams. Instead, the band splits the difference.

On the other hand, it exercises admirable restraint. Psych rock hardly needs more 20-minute opuses, anyway. A ten-minute track is long by any standard, and the band fills each one with enough variation to remain interesting throughout. "Die Morgensonne/Die Mitternachtsonne" is the best example. As its name suggests, it has two grooves. The first is insistently syncopated, with rumbling bass and shimmering organ. The second is a lovely, mellow blues with a stately, gong-like ride cymbal—imagine Mazzy Star around a campfire, with wolves howling nearby.

The production is stunningly authentic to the '60s. Guitars are fuzzed-out, organ lines are luminous, and drums fully resonate. Whooshing noises swirl amid trippy phase and flange effects. Natural-sounding production wraps the cosmic slop in analog warmth. The only thing modern is the mastering job, which yields thickness and bottom end this album's forebears never had. For a time warp from '60s Haight-Ashbury to 21st century Brooklyn, remarkably little was lost along the way.



Reviewed by: Cosmo Lee
Reviewed on: 2007-04-09
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